Saturday, October 31

Do you know your pumpkins?

-> Pumpkins are native to North America, but today are grown on every continent except Antarctica. Note that corn and pecans are also native to North America, but far more difficult to carve into frightening faces. As for Antarctica, it's not certain that anyone has ever really tried to grow pumpkins there, a fact possibly related to the average temperature of minus 58 degrees Fahrenheit.

-> Until 1981 the biggest pumpkin ever recorded was 460 pounds. By 1994 that record was over 1,000 pounds, and the present record is over 1,600 pounds. In that same time period the average weight of an NFL lineman has gone from 277 pounds to 318 pounds. This does not necessarily indicate (but does not rule out) that NFL linemen are eating more pumpkins than they used to.

-> The pumpkin can be boiled, baked, steamed, mashed or roasted, and the seeds are often eaten as snacks. In India it's cooked with butter, sugar and spices. In Thailand small pumpkins are steamed with custard inside and served as a dessert. And as Harry Potter fans are well aware, pumpkin juice is the drink of choice at Hogwarts and is a favorite at their feasts.

-> Canned pumpkin is sometimes recommended by veterinarians as a dietary supplement for dogs and cats with digestive problems. The high fiber content helps to aid proper digestion. For humans, canned pumpkin is often added to pancakes and waffles or made into "pumpkin fluff" and served with apples, pears, pieces of pound cake, gingersnaps, marshmallows, or graham crackers.

-> Pumpkin chucking ('Punkin Chunkin') is a competitive activity in which teams build various mechanical devices designed to throw [catapult] a pumpkin as far as possible. The present record is almost one mile. It seems there is an entire culture growing around this pastime. The World Champion Punkin Chunkin Association holds competitions, awards scholarships and even runs a beauty contest (for people, not pumpkins).

-> Jack Pumpkinhead was a character in several of L. Frank Baum's Oz book series, but unfortunately, never made it into the movie. He was not alone in that respect, however. Other characters in the Oz books that movie-goers may not recognize include: Patchwork Girl, Cap'n Bill, Doctor Dillamond, Lonesome Duck, Betsy Bobbin and Ugu the Shoemaker. So it wasn't all Kansas, witches and flying monkeys with Mr. Baum.

-> The U.S. produces 1.5 billion pounds of pumpkins each year, with most coming from Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and California. According to the University of Illinois, 90 percent of the pumpkins grown in the United States are raised within a 90-mile radius of Peoria, Illinois. The largest pumpkin pie ever made was over five feet in diameter and weighed over 350 pounds. It used 80 pounds of cooked pumpkin, 36 pounds of sugar, 12 dozen eggs and took six hours to bake.

-> The carved pumpkin is called "jack-o-lantern" because the candlelight inside resembles the flickering lights of that name that appear over peat bogs in Ireland. Of course this begs the question, "Then why aren't they called pete-o-lanterns?," to which we have no good answer other than the old parental favorite … "Just because, now eat your peas."

By Max Reilly for the Discovery Channel
Have a fun-filled day of sweet treats, pumpkin spice lattes, and candy corn. :o)

Thursday, October 29


L to R: our adorable 5 month old twins, London is out cold, Owen is our Big One! Claire's along for the ride, Graham's totally bored, Ali's playing contentedly!
Stroller walk through the woods on a beautiful fall day!

Monday, October 26

The "real" parenting begins!

So, I've barely been on the computer this past week. Multiple reasons...however the main one is probably this: we are now the parents of a crawler! It's so fun, I love to see him learn new things! He is SO excited to explore things all around the house. You see this little look of determination when he sees something that he MUST check out...and then you see a face a sheer joy as he gets to shake/rattle/pound, whatever he has found! So I am working on baby-proofing what I need to and figuring out what is going to stay and teaching him "the big N word"! For the most part I am happy to let him explore. He is not being naughty, just learning about a whole new world that has opened up to him!
But while I happy to let him search out new things, it is also VERY difficult to get anything done. I am doing a lot of rescuing! Such as when he gets parked into a corner and isn't sure how to get back out! Or reaching that toy he wanted ended up in a nose-dive!

Or, help! I'm stuck under the chair!

It's an interesting stage...
The first few months of life they have 3 needs - eat, sleep, and hygiene (diapers, baths, etc...) And these needs are continually & constantly met and they have no other thoughts about anything else! Well, now, he is learning that there is a lot of things going on around him and he is going to find out what this world is all about! For the first time in his life, he sees something he wants and mom may not let him have that. GASP. What? I have never been denied before!! So, he is starting the process of learning the no's & yes's of life. (and he's doing pretty good so far!)
And look what now may greet us after naptime! He's not always interested in naps when he can sit up and even STAND up in his crib!
This past week instead of sleeping 1 1/2 - 2 hours in the afternoon, he's been going an hour or less. AGHHH. I'm not sure what to do about this. Because the worst thing is that he then needs another nap between 4 & 5. And we were so past the 3 naps a day! We haven't faced a napping issue since he was about 4 months old. Anyone else have this problem around 9 months?
He sure is excited to see us after naptimes though. I just love the giant smiles and squeals we get for "rescuing" him from the crib. :)
Love each new stage. We learn as much as he does. :)
It's such a joy.

Saturday, October 17

A Providential Playdate

This week we had a Momtourage playdate. We are quickly being forced inside (boo!), but are sneaking one or two more outdoor playdates in. This week we were meeting at a park downtown for a b.y.o.f. picnic. Since parking downtown is so hard to find and usually expensive, I decided it was time to be adventurous and try taking the bus! Somehow I convinced Adrianne that would be a good idea as well.
Our bus was SUPPOSED to come at 10:32, it came by at 10:20. We watched it go by as we were walking to our stop. At the time, we didn't know it was our bus because they are SUPPOSED TO BE ON SCHEDULE!!!! So, 10:50 and we finally get on the bus. It's freezing, we're now going to be late (and we're the leaders. aghhh!!) and I can feel every single one of G's 24 lbs!!!

But we made it!
Graham's first bus ride
See, everyone is happy. :)You have got to be kidding me!! A produce truck pulls out in front is us and dumps all of this. We sit. and wait. and wait. Adri and I CANNOT.BELIEVE.THIS.IS.HAPPENING. Did I mention we were the ones coordinating this event?!!
We finally get off the bus. Oh, yeah. There is a half mile sprint to get to the park from there. And we are carrying our children. pushing strollers. carrying picnics on our backs. freezing. WHOSE IDEA WAS THIS ANYWAYS???!!!
The plan was to meet under this overpass. Guess what? 2 moms were waiting for us there. (2 moms joined us even later!) They were totally forgiving & gracious as well!

As we walk down the hill, we realize this person is front of us is snapping pictures. Ummm, wierd?! So then he comes up to us and tells us he is from the Post-Gazette and the following picture was in the paper the next day. Along with our names. Along with our Momtourage information!! We've already gotten 2 inquiries through our website!So, all is well! We got lunch! We had 6 moms and 8 kids all together and it turned out to be a wonderful time! Molly is on the right (below), who I met at the library. She in turn met Fulya, who is on the left, who is visiting from Turkey for 6 months. All of our little boys are within a couple weeks of each other!

Could they be any cuter?!
Zephyr, Ali, Graham, Jack
So, I don't know if Adrianne will ever ride the bus with me again... :) :) :)

But we did learn a valuable lesson. If all those things had not occured to make us late, we would have not run in to the photographer at that moment, who gave us more free publicity that we could have ever imagined!
We thank God for his ever Providential hand!

Wednesday, October 14

Food for Thought

There is nothing like being entrusted with a little blessing to make you stop. and think. about a lot of things! Would I watch this if my child was here? Would I say this if he could understand me? And, today's big question, would I allow my child to eat this?!!

I began giving our diet a little make-over a couple of years ago. (I had to do it subtly so Andrew wouldn't find out) :) :) I don't think we ate terrible before that, but I found making a few small changes could make a big difference!
I think it seriously began the year before we were thinking of
starting a family. I first got this book, Eating Well When You're Expecting, from the library, and then bought it for myself. (I also had to remember to hide it when anyone came over) :) :) And while it is geared towards pregnancy, it is absolutely applicable to everyone and I highly recommend it as a good nutrition guide. It's loaded with recipes as well.
The first small changes I tried to make was switching to whole-wheat pastas & brown rice, always using whole-grain bread, steering away as much as possible from processed foods & high-fructose corn syrup, and getting our 5+ servings of fruits & veggies each day (which my budget doesn't always allow to happen!) I love to bake, but I try to incorporate a fruit or vegetable as well as oats or wheat flour as much as possible, making things like
pumpkin muffins, cherry cobbler or carrot cake. Now for those thinking, oh, she must be one of those nut jobs!! I wish I were worthy of the title. But will find ice cream in my freezer, an occasional soda in my fridge, and a stash of chocolate for EMERGENCY situations! We also are absolutely not picky when it comes to eating with others. We have no problem eating whatever is served! We LOVE pizza and probably could eat it 2 or 3 times a week! Now I know it's usually considered a "junk food", however, when I have a freshly-made whole wheat crust and pile it with tomatoes, green peppers, & onions, I do NOT consider it bad for us! In fact, I think it's quite healthy! Am I wrong??! I also try to keep the hubby happy and if he wants a double-chocolate peanut butter delight...well, sometimes it's good to indulge him! Sometimes.
Now I try to make as much as possible from scratch and read labels before I purchase. I admit it makes me stinkin' mad that whole-grain bread is more expensive than white, and you can purchase a box of Little Debbie's (bad snack) for $1 and a bag of granola (good snack) for $3! %^#@!$*&
One of the sneakiest culprits is juice. While the label screams 100% (vitamin C) and looks like the best stuff in the world for you, the 2nd ingredient is often high fructose corn syrup! Oh, those tricksters!
My little guy is just getting to the age where he is starting to eat some of our table foods. Oh, this is going to make making baby food so much easier!
I love it and he loves it! He loves food. This is his typical pose when waiting for food - arms out, legs out, mouth open!
Now I'm getting even more particular! I would love for him not to have soda or a potato chip until he's 5, though I doubt that will happen. :) In fact, I'll probably be the one who gives it to him!
But I am definitely feeling the responsibility of setting him on a path of good nutrition at an early age!
Any particular tips as he begins eating a more expanded diet?

This book, The Baby Food Bible, is another goody from the library from which I've learned a lot.
She does tell you which particular fruits & vegetables should especially be organic for babies. And... it's MOST of them! While I would love to do that, I don't know if my budget can handle it! Does anyone else go by these "rules" and is it imperative that I do as well?

Each family is different. What works for me might not work for you and vice-versa. As a SAHM I have the luxury of food prep being a part of my "job"! For a woman juggling a 40 hour work week, or going to school, or a newborn or multiple children, you have to do whatever works for you. I have been there and KNOW (at least for me!) it did not include made-from-scratch dinners every night! Does a can of biscuits popped in the oven count as fresh-baked?? Absolutely!!
I think it's all about moderation & making as many good choices as possible whenever you can!

So tell me, are there little "tweaks" that you have found made a big difference in your family's eating habits?
Now...where's that candy I stashed? :)

Thursday, October 8

Vacation, part 2

It was a pretty quiet & peaceful week. We got fed one Southern feast after another and I'm sure left 5 lbs. heavier! :) Graham got more attention than he could dream of and I'm sure will be wondering what happened to those two people who were giving him so much lovin'!! Yep, it was a nice week away!
The dog was fascinating to him!
Mom & Dad got extra time alone, ohhh, we're going to miss that!
What's that face?!! Playing with his bucket of toys!Loved crawling in bed with Mama Hughes every morning!
Mom & Dad have put him in a box yet again!
We were eating dinner in the screened-in porch.
I think that face says " I want some steak!"Some sights on the way home...Driving through the mountains as the leaves were beginning to change was beautiful!
Graham was a great traveler and we made the 8 hour trip with only one stop and two minutes of fussing. :) We left 80 degrees and came home to 60 degrees! However...No matter where I roam, it's always good to be Home Sweet Home!

Tuesday, October 6

unexpected blessing!

So somehow we ended up on vacation! It was a little unexpected and little last-minute, but wonderful nonetheless (and mostly FREE, save for a little gas money!).

First of all, Andrew will soon be starting a NEW JOB! We are thankful for first one God provided, though there was a quite a discrepancy in $$$ needed and $$$ coming in! But we knew God would provide for us and HE DID, in a lot of ways these past few months! However, He also provided in now providing a new job that will hopefully make that gap a little smaller. :) He will be working for Education Managment Corporation (EDMC), which oversees Argosy Univeristy, the Arts Institutes, Brown Mackie College, and South University. He will be working in Student Support for the online division of these schools.
So, he starts that job next Monday and decided to quit his other job one week early, so that he'd have an extra week in between. Since we missed having a vacation this summer due to moving and really haven't done much traveling since Graham joined us, we thought it would be wonderful to get away!
Graham & I had been planning to visit his parents soon, even though Andrew wouldn't be able to join us, but it turns out that he could!
Andrew's brother was vacationing in Massanutten (resort area in the mountains in VA) this week as well, so the drive worked out perfectly for us to drive there and stay first and then continue on to NC. (It was also wonderful to break up the trip for the little guy!) Though he is a great traveler, the 8-9 hours straight back won't be our favorite thing, I'm sure. :)

We have usually spent our vacations in NYC or DC or somewhere where we end up walking for 8 straight hours! Maybe it was something about living in such a busy city now, but we were totally loving the tranquility & peacefulness of the Massanutten area. The mountains were beautiful, the trees were beautiful (though how amazing they will be in a few weeks when they all change!), we left after one day, already refreshed! We decided our next vacation is going to be at a cabin in the woods. :) Graham really enjoyed playing with his cousins!
So now we're chillin' with Mama & Papa Hughes and enjoying a few more quiet days. Thankful for a week to stop and BREATHE (the smoke-free, smog-free air. :)

oh, and someone took his first 3 "steps" in crawling forward while we were here!

Thursday, October 1

In the words of G-man...

Well, I've about made it 8 months in my life (saturday) and here's what's up with me...
I am around 20 lbs. & 27 inches long. Yep, that's very, very healthy (& heavy!) Can you blame my mom for being glad that I'm getting mobile on my own?

My very favorite thing now is standing! I just love it and CAN'T WAIT to be able to GO! I can only stand holding on to things, not quite on my own yet, but don't worry, it will be soon enough that I'll be into everything. he, he, he...

My mom doesn't love the fact that I've gotten a little fussy in the last few weeks. But I have a VERY good reason. It was the same way right before I learned to sit up, and I was SO OVER laying on my back! Now we're at that crossroads again and I am SO OVER just sitting & playing and I want to be able to GO! I just can't quite figure out this crawling thing, but I can basically scoot anywhere in a room. The problem is, I don't want to be on my belly, I want to be up! So, can't you understand my frustration?
These pics are from our last session at Picture People. My mom said I wasn't smiling as much as I did last time, but that's because they kept bringing me fun things to play with and I was way to BUSY to smile. :) So it was lots of fun playing with new stuff, but they kept taking things away before I was done playing with them. *#@!*#!
I really have no idea why they put me in this bucket!
Another thing that has cropped up in the last few weeks is separation anxiety! My mom was told this didn't hit until 10 months, but I like to keep her on her toes. :)
I totally notice when mom & dad try to sneak away and leave me with a big, bad stranger. (And for those who have been on the receiving end of a melt-down or two, sorry!)
Don't worry, it's me, not you.

I really loved this plane!! I wish my mom & dad would get me some cool toys like this. (I'm pretty bored with the {baby} toys I have mom, FYI)
So...a few lets-get-past-this-quick this past month, but it's mostly all very, very GOOD!
-I LOVE seeing my daddy come home every day and I squeal & giggle when he runs around the house with me!
-I get absolutely giddy when I have BOTH mom & dad's attention.
-I am very ticklish!
-I always laugh out loud at mom when she says "boo" to me.
-I am trying to be brave, but I have to admit, I am really scared of the vacuum cleaner.
-I also get scared when people yell at the TV which I was first exposed to after moving to this sports-crazed city!
-I definitely like my BOY toys. When I'm sitting in a pile of toys I always reach for my basketball or football first!
-I'm having fun trying new foods. Oatmeal & fresh bananas is definitely my favorite and I gobble down a bowl so fast!
-I have developed a fake cough which I use stratigically when I'm not comfortable with something. Pretty genius, right? (it totally cracks my mom & dad up)
So that's what's going on in my's pretty great!
Happy 8 months, Graham Owen, we love you more than words can express!